The Extreme Verge

by Evelyn Hooven (August 2016)

“You are now within a foot of th’ extreme verge.  .  .  .” (King Lear, iv, vi)


Karl Jaspers on “boundary situations” (Grenzsituationen): “Death, suffering, struggle, chance, guilt—along with wonder and doubt—we react to them either by obfuscation or, if we really apprehend them, by despair and rebirth: we become ourselves.  .  .  .”                                               


                                           You led me to a verge

Past falling, when all the falling’s finished,

And I lie grieving, bereaved and dumb.


                                           At a point past falling,

And past the bruise of rocks, I lay waning,

Dull and diminished, waiting to disappear.


                                          The point past falling

Is like a bell unstrung from the tower

And hurled from ropes that held it high and spired,


                                         Like a bell unringing

With no ritual to sing, no tolls exhorting

Celebrants to trample the homes of death.


                                        Like the point past falling

I lay, a bell with no hours, no striking, no

Ceremonies to say, an unperformer.


                                       You pushed me to a verge

Past mourning, and I lie like a still-struck

Griever, unchanting, bereaved, and dumb.




Evelyn Hooven graduated from Mount Holyoke College and received her M.A. from Yale University, where she also studied at The Yale School of Drama.  A member of the Dramatists’ Guild, she has had presentations of her verse dramas at several theatrical venues, including The Maxwell Anderson Playwrights Series in Greenwich, CT (after a state-wide competition) and The Poet’s Theatre in Cambridge, MA (result of a national competition). Her poems and translations from the French have appeared in ART TIMES, Chelsea, The Literary Review, THE SHOp: A Magazine of Poetry (in Ireland), The Tribeca Poetry Review, Vallum (in Montreal), and other journals, and her literary criticism in Oxford University’s Essays in Criticism.


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